Wednesday, November 25, 2020

We certainly give thanks!

I think almost everyone is in agreement that 2020 has been a crazy year! Yet in spite of everything that has happened this year, God’s blessings have been abundant and we have so much to thank Him for.

Scott even says he is thankful for the pandemic because it has allowed him the opportunity to teach more classes since it is all online from home and does not require the usual travel. He has a busy schedule teaching 6 evenings a week. Sunday he leads a small group from our church. They discuss the sermon more in depth and spend time praying for individual prayer requests.  Monday he teaches a group of Quichua pastors how to do the inductive Bible study method. Tuesday he meets with a small group of his students to answer questions. Wednesday he is teaching Biblical Hebrew at one of the Quichua seminaries in Ecuador. Thursday he meets with another group of students who also are studying Biblical Hebrew together. Saturday he is meeting with a group of Quichua believers who are studying the Pentateuch, the first 5 books of the Old Testament. He is staying busy but is really excited about all of the opportunities God has given to him.

Kristi is thankful for her job working with the group of homeschool families and especially for her class of six 3rd graders. Please pray for one of the families who is going through a divorce. They have 2 boys who are really struggling both academically and emotionally. 

Lindsey is thankful for her friend Michaela. The 2 of them are starting a baking business in their free time. Today they are busy making 10 pies that were ordered. She is still doing school completely online. It gets old, and she wishes she could go back to school instead, but she continues to keep a good attitude. 

We are thankful that Luke was able to complete all of his semester on campus at John Brown. They have had very few cases of Covid. He will head to Newton for Thanksgiving to see his Grandma and Joel. Pray for him as he takes his finals online next week to finish his semester.

We are thankful for safety for Joel as he had a car accident about a month ago and for providing a different car for him. Pray for wisdom for him as he would like to move back to Spokane and go back to school.

We are thankful for blessing us with a granddaughter this year! We love getting to see Evelyn by video call from a distance but sure wish we were close enough to hug and kiss her. We also are so thankful for David and Shelby and the joy we see in their faces as they learn to be a family of three.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Teaching can be exciting!

Kristi 

We wrote last month that Kristi lost her job at Alliance Academy because of a large drop in enrollment due to the tough economy Ecuador is experiencing. Thanks for praying. Kristi was offered a job with a new organization called EduKasa. It is a group of parents who have decided to homeschool their children using Abeka, a Christian curriculum from the U.S. 

She is just starting her 2nd week working with six 3rd graders. They watch the Abeka videos online each day and Kristi meets with them 2 times a morning for 30 minutes to help reinforce what they are learning and answer any questions they have. She also meets with each student twice a week for some one-on-one time as well. All of this is done online using Google Meet.

All six of her students are Ecuadorians. They have parents who are deeply involved in their children's education, but since the videos and curriculum are all in English, they have a difficult time helping their children. Kristi is very thankful for the opportunity to work with these six students each morning.

Scott

We also asked you to pray regarding some teaching opportunities for Scott. The Zoom group from Chimborazo has come together just as we hoped. Last night they had their third meeting. The students are very interested in learning about the inductive Bible study method. Some of them are also learning a lot about using Zoom!

Since we last wrote, a new study group has also formed to learn Biblical Hebrew. Scott found an excellent online tool called "Aleph with Beth." A missionary couple doing Bible translation with Wycliffe is developing this channel on YouTube to teach Hebrew for free to anyone around the world. It is useful for anything from Bible study to Bible translation. The best part is that the videos are simple enough for anyone to use for learning, and it doesn't matter what language they speak.

Watch Lesson 1 here:

Click here if you want to see their introductory video:

This Thursday Scott will begin a weekly Zoom class to help guide about 20 students through this study. They seem to be excited to start. Pray that they will catch a vision of helping to teach others too.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Adapting to New Realities

Travel

A lot has happened since we last wrote. We loved spending a few days with David and Shelby in San Luis Obispo, California and snuggling with our new granddaughter, Evelyn. What a precious gift from God!


We traveled back to Quito from California. We were required to have a negative Covid test in order to enter back into Ecuador. We are thankful that God provided and we received the results in time to travel. Our travel day was mostly uneventful and we arrived back home safely. The only crazy part started about halfway through the flight from Miami to Quito. The young man sitting right next to Scott started to cough and sniffle, and it continued for the rest of the flight! Another requirement was to spend our first 10 days in quarantine at home, and it certainly seemed like a good idea this time. Thankfully, we never saw any aftereffects from our concerning social interaction!

When we got back, we were happy to find that we can order groceries online and have them delivered right to our door. Things are still much more restricted in Quito than what they were in Kansas. Masks are required everywhere outside of our home, including in our car. We are only able to drive 3 days a week. The curfew continues, but it has been extended to 11:00 pm. Churches are still not able to meet together.

Alliance

Unfortunately, because of the economic situation caused by the current challenges, Alliance Academy has been greatly affected. They lost about 200 students (over a third) and had to let many staff and teachers go, Kristi being one of them. Pray for wisdom for Kristi to know how best to use her time. She has started physical therapy here in Quito and continues to see improvement in her shoulder recovery. 

Lindsey started 10th grade this year and is studying online. She misses the daily physical contact with friends and can’t wait for the day when she can actually go back to school and not have to be on the computer all day long. 



Teaching

Scott has a couple of upcoming opportunities to teach online. The first is only a potential since the dates haven't been set yet. It's for a group of pastors in Chimborazo Province whom Scott has taught before. This time they are asking for more training regarding the inductive Bible study method. They are hoping to get something organized on Zoom for September. Since these guys are mostly rural, the technology and bandwidth is a little more of a challenge. You can pray that God would enable them to study together. If it works it could open the door for more frequent classes for an area of the country that doesn't have as many opportunities.

The other opportunity is more certain. One of the Quichua believers has made initial efforts at starting a seminary that will function online permanently. He invited Scott to teach an overview of the Old Testament starting in November. The big challenge is that for now they are only meeting one hour per week. It will take a long time to finish the whole OT at that pace! The key will be to start with the Pentateuch and see where things go from there. Some of Scott's work in the next month and a half will be to map out a plan for the upcoming sessions in this class.

An App for That

Some of you are familiar with goTandem, an app for cell phones from Back to the Bible. They have given Avant Ecuador the opportunity to develop our own app using the same platform. We created one called UME Ecuador. It will send daily scriptures, devotionals, Bible teaching and prayer requests to anyone who installs it on their phone.


Scott has been learning how to manage the app, and he recently finished getting it ready enough to start promoting. Pray that many people will give it a try. Pray that God will use it to connect people more with the Scriptures and with quality Bible teaching. Maybe it will be an especially useful tool for these challenging times.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Heading back the long way!

We are proud to announce the birth of our baby granddaughter, Evelyn Louise Edgren! She was born to David and Shelby on July 15, measuring 8 lbs 13 oz and 21 in. We are traveling to California to see them for a few days starting August 4. From there we will travel back to Ecuador on August 10.


We are thankful that there are currently no restrictions blocking our return to Quito. We will be required to submit negative results of a Covid test in order to enter the country. The test needs to be done within 7 days of arriving in Quito. Pray that we will be able to get tests done in California with quick results.

After arriving in Quito we will be required to quarantine for two weeks again. Kristi and Lindsey will return to classes at Alliance Academy on September 1. It looks very likely that the classes will be online to start. Pray for a good adjustment back to school. Alliance expects to lose many students for the coming year because of economic challenges. Pray for the health of the school and that this year will be full of opportunities to touch people's lives for Christ.

Kristi's recovery from shoulder surgery has been going as well as expected. She has a doctor's appointment on Monday when she expects to get confirmation that she can abandon her sling and begin more intensive therapy. Pray that she won't lose ground with her recovery during the three weeks of our transition back to Ecuador.

Scott continues to be involved a little with ministry online. After we return to Ecuador he hopes to increase his involvement with this. Pray for the right opportunities to come together.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Kristi's Recovery

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for Kristi. Her shoulder replacement surgery went well. She has been doing physical therapy for over a week and has already seen a little progress. She needs to wear a sling for six weeks. Some of her current challenges are sleeping in a recliner and eating with her left hand. For now her physical therapy is mostly stretching and working a little on restoring range of motion. In early August she will move toward rebuilding strength.

Scott has continued a little bit of ministry involvement in Quito from a distance. Leading a small group from Kansas is about the same as from Quito when we'd have to stay at home anyway!

We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first grandchild. The news could come any day now! Pray for Shelby and David during the last stretch of pregnancy and the first days of parenthood.

The pandemic remains an issue in Ecuador. They have relaxed restrictions a little, but things are still tighter there than they are here. They are also seeing an increase in cases lately, especially in Quito. Pray for mercy.

We are hoping to return to Ecuador approximately August 8. There are so many uncertainties about international travel right now that we are delaying the purchase of our tickets. Pray that God will enable our return when the time is right.

Scott will be preaching in Kansas on July 26. Pray that God would lead him to bring an important message from God's Word.

Thank you for your ongoing support of the ministry in Ecuador. Avant has continued to receive donations that enable us to do our work. We don't take you for granted, and the challenging times are demonstrating more than ever your commitment to the team!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

An Exercise in Hope


The prophet Joel brought God's Word to his people in the middle of the devastation they faced due to a plague of locusts. He communicated a message of both judgment and hope. The plague they faced may have been bad, but he warned that worse judgment was yet to come. And yet, God promised to care for his people and give them good things even beyond imagining.

The plague we face today also carries a message of warning and hope. While I wouldn't want to claim that Covid-19 is the judgment of God on any specific sin, God may very well desire to use it to prompt us to evaluate our relationship with him. And he certainly wants us to find our only true hope in him, no matter what the circumstances around us might be.

Just like much of the world, Ecuador is taking small and gradual steps toward opening back up. This country has been hit very hard by the virus. The official statistics don't really tell the whole story. Here is an article that explains it well:

New York Times

Up to now most of the cases have been in Guayaquil where they are now seeing things stabilizing. Things have been better in Quito but the numbers are still rising. There is a lot of uncertainty about what lies ahead, but many people feel that the economy needs to re-open for now. The economic consequences have been huge, and the price is high, especially for lower-income families.

The impact of the crisis is being felt very strongly. As of yesterday 38 Quichua pastors have died as a result of the coronavirus. Of course, many more lay people, family members and unsaved neighbors and friends have become victims. Pray that all of God's people will speak truth into the tough situations around us. Pray for courage, boldness and trust.

Trip to the US

You might remember that Kristi had a shoulder replacement a year and a half ago because of arthritis. We have known that the other side would need to be done sooner or later. In January we realized it was becoming "sooner" since her pain has been affecting the mobility and performance of her right arm. We scheduled surgery in Wichita for June, but that has obviously been in doubt for several weeks. We are thankful that it looks like we will be able to move forward with those plans.

We will travel to the US on May 31, spend two weeks in quarantine, and prepare for surgery on June 23. Kristi will focus on recovery and rehabilitation through July. Then we hope to be able to return to Ecuador in August.

Kristi will continue to teach 4th grade at Alliance Academy via Zoom, and Lindsey will finish up her 9th grade year on June 12. They are looking forward to the summer break as it has been tough doing school online. Scott will probably find a mix between ministry in Ecuador, contacting supporters in the US and caring for the needs of the family.

Family

Here's an update on our boys. David has been without a job since February but there is a promising opportunity that might come together soon. We're thankful that Shelby's job has continued.

Joel has been working and doing an internship at a church in LA to help with their children's ministry. That has been at a standstill with no church services, so the church has encouraged him to feel free to move on instead of staying through the summer. He is planning on joining us in Kansas for the summer and hopes to find painting work there.

Luke is working at a camp in Missouri this summer. This camp is for foster kids, so is considered an essential job this summer, even though most camps are not able to open. Pray for him to have opportunities to touch the lives of these boys.

Pray

Please pray regarding our upcoming travel which will be a very unusual kind of trip. Pray also for help for Kristi's shoulder. And let's pray together that we can all learn the lessons that God has for us during these unusual times.

Hope

The prophet Joel promised a future day when God would pour out his Spirit on all. That day has come! (Acts 2:16-21) At least...partially. And like Joel, we still await a future and perfect fulfillment of his promises. We're living in a great time in history--a great time to exercise our hope!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

In the shadow of his wings

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! 
I look to you for protection. 
I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings 
until the danger passes by.
Psalm 57:1

Like much of the rest of the world, we are currently in lockdown in our home in Quito. We can leave to buy groceries, but that's about it. It's a good time for all of us to seek mercy from God. Whether we need protection from illness or patience while we stay in shelter, God is the refuge we must rely on. May God use this time to make our hearts more receptive to him. May he also open doors to give us more influence in the lives of others whose hearts might also be extra receptive.


Three weeks ago Alliance Academy was in the middle of Spiritual Emphasis Week. It seemed that God was doing some important ministry through the guest speakers in the lives of the students. Unfortunately, that ministry came to an abrupt end when the mayor of Quito closed all schools in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. For the first couple of days, Lindsey was able to study at home in the company of her friends.


On March 15 Ecuador closed it's borders and went on lockdown. You can read a translation of President Moreno's speech here. Since then, we have barely been out of the house. Kristi is teaching her fourth graders online. There have been a few challenges getting it to work smoothly, but we are mostly grateful for technologies that didn't even exist a few short years ago!


Early in March Scott received a visit from a Quichua man named Segundo who is looking for help to plant a new church in his community.


Segundo was planning to accompany Scott to his next workshop on Bible Study in Chimborazo. He was excited to meet some other leaders there who could help guide him in the church planting ministry. Unfortunately, all of these plans have also been put on hold due to our current reality. Pray for God's blessing on the life of Segundo and for God's perfect timing.

One of the important tasks God has laid on Scott's heart is to help promote missions in Ecuador, encouraging the national church to send out missionaries to the rest of the world. In March he began teaching a course in cooperation with Encamina, a Bible and missions training center in Quito. He taught the first class and then everything shut down. Thankfully, with a little bit of creativity and hustle they were able to move the classes to an online format with Zoom. Scott expects to continue his involvement in this ministry for the near future.


It's incredible the way life has changed so quickly for all of us. Just like you, we have had to make some pretty big adjustments. Pray that God would make this a fruitful time of ministry in the middle of a new situation. Let us know how we can pray for you. Together we can make it through this. We can all put our trust is the unchanging God of the universe. No matter what the coming weeks and months bring, we know we are under the shadow of his wings!